Don’t expect the Gaels to improve on last season’s second-last place finish in the OUA. New head coach Stephan Barrie said a young team will simply focus on getting better every week and won’t take any shortcuts for early wins.
“We have to build this program from the ground up,” he said. “This is the first year, so we have to set a good foundation.”
Core players Dan Bannister, Tim Boyle and Chris Barrett graduated after last season. Barrie said he wants a collective effort, but starters like Ryan Golden, Bernard Burgesson and Nikola Misljencevic will be expected to step into leadership roles. Although Mackenzie Simpson and rookie John Lenz will round out the starting lineup, Barrie said there will be fluctuation throughout the season.
The Gaels will be underdogs in almost every game they play this season — something that might have its advantages, according to Barrie. He said his team won’t have anything to lose because nobody will be expecting results.
An inexperienced team with a new coach won’t win any trophies. But if Barrie can develop his younger talent, the Gaels will be a team to watch in the future.
This is Barrie’s first season with the Gaels. In the past five years, he coached the Western Mustangs women’s team to an 87-23 record.
Misljencevic is the highest scorer among returning players and should be a big presence under the net.
Jan. 13 vs. Laurentian Voyageurs: The Voyageurs finished one place ahead of the Gaels in the OUA last season. This season’s matchup will determine whether or not the Gaels have improved.
— Peter Reimer
Last season, the women’s basketball team overcame injuries to four key players and earned a playoff berth. With no major departures, the Gaels can expect better results this season.
This season’s roster will include five new faces. Guard Rachel Urosevic will debut as a rookie after missing all of last season with a stress fracture in her foot. Wing Jenny Wright is the Gaels’ top recruit and head coach Dave Wilson said she will soon be dominant in the OUA.
Veteran presence was lacking last year, but guard Meaghan MacDougall and wing Christine Wallace are returning to the line this season after season-ending injuries early last year.
The Gaels still have a major injury concern ahead of Friday’s home opener. Fifth-year guard Brittany Moore is expected to play, but she missed the past three pre-season games due to an ankle injury. and isn’t 100 per cent If the Gaels want to make the playoffs, they will need their top scorer to stay healthy.
The Gaels won three straight games at the Tindall tournament on Oct. 21 to 23 and then recorded two wins over American opposition last weekend. Wilson said his team played better than they did during last year’s pre-season.
This team is deeper and healthier than last season. An OUA semifinal appearance is possible.
This will be Wilson’s 30th season as the Gaels head coach. He has a 525-232 regular-season record and is 14-32 in the post-season.
Moore is the Gaels’ all-time leading scorer and will be a crucial part of the offence.
Dec. 2 vs. Western Mustangs: The Mustangs beat the Gaels 65-64 last season. The Gaels will look to enter the holidays with a win over their rivals.
— Jerry Zheng
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